Figuring Out Takeout

On last month’s date night my hubby and I wanted to keep it simple, so we picked up burritos from our favorite taqueria and took them to the cliffs to catch the sunset. Of course I had some Near-O Waste requests. This was my dinner (+ a Mexican Coke):


As we were walking into the taqueria, my hubby asked if he could stand behind me in line and pretend we weren’t together (but he didn’t). This was his dinner:


At least he passed on the napkins, and I was impressed with the recycled paper bag.


After dinner, and a stunning sunset, this was my only trash…


…but of course I didn’t throw it away! I was actually just reading about how to recycle metal bottle caps, so now I’m extra glad I’ve been stashing them.

A week later (on St. Patrick’s Day and shortly after a friend had asked me how much glass I’ve broken) I was heading into the store with my mom, admittedly after a green IPA, when I dropped a large glass container that was meant to hold my deli sandwiches. The owner of the vehicle it broke under came out 30 seconds later, followed by Mike (the produce guy) with a rolling garbage can and a dust pan, saying, “Andrea, I should have known it was you!” The owner graciously helped me reach under his tires for the remaining shards of glass as Mike asked my mom if we were related. “Yes,” she said, “I’m her mom; double trouble.”

I still love my Glasslock for meat, but now I use my mom’s homemade wraps when I’m taking burritos or sandwiches to go. They’re lighter, less voluminous, less embarrassing, and indestructible! And I wish you could have seen the guys at the taqueria giggling at the poor soul who had to figure out how to swaddle my little burrito.

IMG_5855 IMG_2917


The “Packaged Item Compromise”

As dedicated as I am to Near-O Waste, I just don’t have the heart to tell my kids we will never buy gummy bunnies again. So usually our snacks come from the bulk bins, but every month they get to choose one packaged item, and boy are they excited when this day comes!


In April, we’re bringing peanut butter-filled pretzels on a road trip to Portland and, to my five-year-old’s delight, they will be “unlimited”, which means he can have as many as he wants, whenever he wants. This is quite a contrast to our daily lives, where I (in his words) always have limits!

In May, we’ll be enjoying two types of crackers. I bought these a few months ago at a health food store, before I realized we should be choosing these rare snacks wisely (like in huge packages at Costco!). We get two boxes because the “best buy” dates are looming… and of course we can’t waste them!

In June, we’ll be going on another road trip to Texas, and we’ll be bringing enough gummy bunnies for each member of our family (4) to have one pack per day for nine days in a row. Pretty sure this is the kids’ most anticipated snack!

In July, we can dig into a scrumptious, irresistible, and seemingly endless bag of cheese clouds (if you haven’t seen these, they’re similar to Pirate’s Booty).

And then there’s the “beef jerky bonus” for my husband. This is an indulgence he misses a lot, and until we get around to making our own, we decided one package for each road trip would be appropriate.

I feel great about living a near-o waste lifestyle most of the time, and about making some reasonable compromises for my kids and my husband, who had no part in concocting this crazy idea called Near-O Waste, but have been super supportive of (almost) every drastic life change.


I’m Not Alone!

I was recently invited to join a network of zero waste bloggers and I must say I was honored. It’s so exciting to connect with other people who are on the same mission! Check out these blogs about zero waste, homesteading, and other similar ventures:

Grunish, out of Oregon (This is the blogger who invited me to join the network. Thank you, Inge, and sorry… I couldn’t figure out how to add an umlaut over the “u” in Grunish!)

Zany Green Quest, out of California

Zero Waste Familie, out of Germany (but if you don’t speak German, good luck reading this one!)

Whistle Pig Hollow, out of Tennessee

My Zero Waste, out of the UK

A Dream Lived Greener, out of Canada

Zero Waste Girl, out of Washington DC

Mixed Media Musings, out of California

Zero Waste Blog, out of Germany

The Homesteading Hippy, out of Indiana

Striving for Zero Waste, out of California

Simply Zero, out of Germany (again, written in German)

My blog: Near-O Waste, out of California

And last but not least, the blogger whose story on NPR inspired me to start my own lifestyle change and blog: Lauren Singer of Trash is for Tossers, out of New York.

Which reminds me, I still haven’t said how I got where I am today… 2014 was coming to an end. I was flipping through a National Geographic long after my boys (husband included) had fallen asleep. There was an article about the human footprint with a picture of a family standing in front of their own personal mountain of garbage. That got me thinking: Let’s save our packaging for a year and see how much trash we make. Wouldn’t that be a meaningful visual for our kids? The next day I proposed the idea at breakfast and they seemed to be on board, but later that day I heard a story on NPR that changed my idea to: Better yet, let’s try not to make any trash in the first place! Once the idea of “Near-O Waste” got into my head, there was no stopping me! When my mom suggested that I start a blog, I thought it would be too much work (after all, I had just stopped making phonics puppets), but when my best friend suggested it, I was convinced. Kids always listen to their friends over their parents, right?

Thank you, NPR, for doing a story on Lauren Singer.

Thank you, Rebecca, for inspiring me to start a blog, for reading my posts religiously, and for your interest and support.

And thank you, Mom, for coming up with the spelling “near-o”, for making so many lifestyle changes right along with me, for being my number one fan, and for raising me with so many examples of creating from scratch and from the heart.



Near-O Waste

When a new year rolls around I’ve always got a trick up my sleeve. It’s not necessarily a “resolution”, but more like a new experience. In 2006 it was: Take videos- of everything- all year long. I did, and ended up with 7 hours of footage that I whittled down to 60 minutes of priceless memories. The moments within those minutes capture the essence of my grandma, who passed away two years later, and the wild times I had with my husband before we were even “official”. In 2008 it was: Teach myself to decorate cakes. I did, and with great satisfaction. Now I have the tools and the skills to create custom cakes for my sons on their birthdays. In 2012 it was: Eliminate added sugar and processed foods from our diet. We were religious about that one for half of the year, and have kept the sugar and processed foods at bay for the most part since then. In 2013 it was: See all 50 states with our boys before they graduate from high school. Obviously, we’re still working on that one, and rather diligently; we’re up to thirteen! Last year it was: Write one sentence to summarize the day, every day, all year. I did not miss a single day, and now that year has been documented in the back of a Shutterfly album for our family to enjoy. Now, in 2015, it is: Try out the “Zero Waste” lifestyle. Shortly after I committed to this challenge I thought: I’m calling it Near-O Waste (rhymes with Zero Waste) because we’re just going to get as near zero as we can… at least until we make it all the way! So there you have it; the new adventure for 2015, and I think it’s safe to say a permanent lifestyle change for The Randall Family. I invite you on a journey into Near-O Waste Land as we simplify our life, minimize trash, and do our part to preserve the planet. Follow this blog, get updates on Facebook, and spread the word to your friends. Three, Two, One, Near-O!